The occasion was memorable for the Charlotte Independence, even if being on the short end of a 4-0 score wasn’t.
“Anytime you step on the field the object is to win,” Independence defender Austin Yearwood said after the exhibition loss to Swansea City of the English Premier League.
“Obviously that didn’t happen. But it was great to get a chance to work on some things in this kind of atmosphere against a team from one of the top leagues in the world.”
Forward Wayne Routledge scored two goals and assisted on another for the Swans, playing the first of two exhibitions in the U.S. before returning to Wales to prepare for their Aug. 13 EPL opener.
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A sellout crowd of 4,116 at Ramblewood Soccer Complex watched the Independence play the visitors pretty evenly in the first half before falling victim to some effective Swansea counterattacking in the second half.
Charlotte’s best chances mostly came early, including a near-miss from about 20 yards away by forward Brian Brown at the end of a sideline run at around the 20-minute mark. The Independence couldn’t connect on a pair of corner-kick opportunities in the next couple of minutes.
“I thought we were solid defensively the entire first half,” Independence coach Mike Jeffries said. “We had some chances – and some that were half-chances – that we couldn’t take advantage of.”
Forward Oliver McBurnie scored the game’s first goal 26 minutes in, shortly after a water break on this sweltering night. He tucked a hard shot into the top left corner of the net from about 25 yards.
The Swans were dangerous from the start of the second half and scored in the 52nd minute on Routledge’s first goal, a shot just inside the far post after taking a cross from Angel Rangel about 10 yards out.
Routledge also scored on a breakaway with about 20 minutes left in the game and set up Kenji Gorre’s goal in the 81st minute.
“We’re just trying to get better and have an improved season,” said Swans forward Moudou Barrow. “This was an opportunity for us to test ourselves. They (Charlotte) were a good team and they challenged us.”
▪ Swansea City played without Andre Ayew, its top scorer from last season, and was also missing four players who were taking a break after playing in the European Championship.
▪ The Independence (7-5-4, 22 points), in contention for a United Soccer League playoff spot, will return to league play Saturday against New York Red Bulls II. Kickoff is 7 p.m. at Ramblewood.
▪ Swansea City, which finished 12th in the 20-team EPL last year, will complete its two-game U.S. tour Saturday at Richmond, Va.